March 1, 2017 – by David Schlissel, IEEFA. Editor’s note: Valley Watch and our colleagues, Citizens Action Coalition and Sierra Club have challenged the Edwardsport plant since 2006 before the IURC and IDEM. Sadly, we failed to stop the plant. David Schlissel has served as our “expert before the IURC on several of the “dockets.”
If the “clean coal” integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology promoted at home and abroad by the U.S. utility industry sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is.
That’s why Moody’s Investors Services warned the other day that it might downgrade the creditof Mississippi Power Company because of the declining competitiveness of the company’s Kemper County IGCC plant.
IGCC is experimental and expensive and may well always remain so. It aims to merge three separate procedures into one unified but exceptionally complicated operation.
Step one turns coal into what’s known as synthetic gas, or “syngas,” which is said to be more environmentally friendly to burn than coal itself. Step two removes carbon dioxide from the syngas (rather than taking it out “post-combustion,” as is traditional in coal-fired generation). Step three fires the gas and generates electricity.
Two IGCC plants have been built in the U.S. in recent years: Edwardsport Generating Station in Indiana and Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi. Each is a distinctive first-of-their-kind plant placed into production on a commercial scale at huge costs to ratepayers—by Duke Energy, which owns Edwardsport, and by Mississippi Power, the Southern Company subsidiary that runs Kemper.
PROMOTED AS THE FUTURE OF CLEAN POWER GENERATION IN AMERICA, NEITHER HAS LIVED UP TO ITS HYPE.
Both Edwardsport and Kemper have proven far more expensive to build than originally proposed.
Edwardsport, which began construction in 2008 with an estimated budget of $1.985 billion, cost $3.55 billion in official construction costs by the time Duke began to put it online in 2013. That cost overrun, big as it is, actually understates the full price of the plant because it doesn’t include the more than $600 million Duke was allowed by regulators in Indiana to charge customers ahead of activation. Continue reading